Interview With League of Legends YouTube Content Creator Blakinola

Game Skinny interviews world renowned League of Legends YouTube Content creator Blakinola about the rise of YouTube content, the struggle of content creation, and what it takes to follow your dreams.
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Blakinola, creator of TL;DR Patch Notes, is a League of Legends YouTube Content Creator. Making a variety of videos from parodies, musical collaborations, champion guides, announcer pack voice overs, champion impersonations, lore read through, and motivational speeches his online presence has skyrocketed in less than a year. With over 20,000 followers on Twitter and a growing global fan-base, Blakinola manifests the essence of grassroots League of Legends content scene. 

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Meeting this past Pax Prime and touching bases at the first ever Summoner’s Con, what distinguishes most YouTubers like Blakinola is not only their humbleness but also the resilient efforts to bridge the divide between fans and creators. We caught up with Blakinola to chat about his beginnings, aspirations, the YouTube content scene, and where eSports is heading.

Gameskinny [GS]: When did you start playing League of Legends? At what point did it become more than just a game to you?  

Blakinola [B]: I started playing League in 2012 after some friends convinced me to try. It was free and relatively simple to get into, although I wasn’t super great at it! It became more than a game to me after I saw the outrageous community presence in the form of content creation like cosplay, art, and videos.

GS: When did you decide that you wanted to produce content on YouTube about League of Legends?  

B: I originally wanted to start Youtube to make let’s plays! But there were a million and one people doing what I wanted to do. I didn’t exactly know how to set myself apart from anyone. I also didn’t have the funds for recording equipment. I had an old Macbook and a low-grade cell phone camera. Lets just say that didn’t last long. I really liked voice acting and wanted to try my hand at imitating the characters (called champions) of the game. One recording session and Reddit post later, I woke up to 50,000 views on the video. I was blown away. I figured if I kept making content about this game I liked, it could lead to good things. I was engaging an audience…no point in stopping now!

GS: When did you decide to call yourself Blakinola and why?  

B: So my name is Akinola – I got Blakinola from when some friends and I played a lot of Halo 2 in college. We’d joke around because we were minorities and he once made the portmanteau of black and akinola and the rest was, as they say, is history.

GS: Your early beginnings as a content creator were quite different from your current TL;DR videos. What was initially your aspirations when you created your YouTube channel? 

  B: I just wanted to make videos people would watch – it took forever to find a “niche”, something that I’d be known for. So I tried anything and everything until I hit my stride.I saw Siv HD make those silly videos and thought to myself “Hey I can do that”. It was my first foray capturing footage and truly editing something ridiculous. League of Legends Season 3 was just starting so I just thought, “why not, I’ve got nothing to lose!”

GS: In your earliest videos, was there a fandom like there is now?   

B: No, there was no fandom in the beginning! It was only within the last year where people want me to take pictures and sign stuff.  In the beginning I looked up to my fellow YouTube content creators, I think everyone was just having fun with it – they had big followings, but things have changed. Some creators have slowed down on content or given it up altogether! For me now, more than ever, I am trying to make this a career and I don’t want to slow down.

GS: At Summoner’s Con, you talked about the trials and tribulations you go through having a full-time job and still manage to produce content. Walk us through a day in the life of Blakinola.  

B: Wake up at 7, leave at 7:30 to catch the train, get to work at 9. Leave work at 5, take the train get back at home at 6:30. Alternate days are for spending time with my fiancée/video making/streaming. I’ve got it balanced out for the most part.

GS: What are your aspirations?  

B: I want to do everything but not settle on one thing. It’s tough. I could work at Riot, but I would probably have to abandon my YouTube channel. I could be a shoutcaster, but I’d have to abandon my YouTube channel. I’ve always wanted to be a professional voice announcer/actor. I basically just want to be such a good person to be around in the community that when an opportunity comes up I will hopefully be comfortable enough in my life to take the next leap. It’ll work itself out in the end.

GS: What are the biggest challenges, perks, highlights, and surprises that come with being a LoL YouTube content creator? What recommendations would you offer to fans whom look up to you as a role model?  

B: One of the biggest challenges is being consistent. No one wants anyone to fall off or have a reason to stop watching. If I could offer any single piece of advice, it would be to keep consistent. If you are going to release a video twice a week, stick to it. Perks? I get a lot of opportunities to promote awesome tech, but I say no to a lot of it, surprisingly. Highlights? I get to meet all my fans and see how happy I make them through my videos. Surprises? Just the appeal my videos have on a worldwide scale..people from many countries have told me how they tune into my stream or watch my videos and that never gets old.

GS: Where do you think the next step is for LoL YouTube content creators?  

B: Collaborations are a great way to combine audiences. I’ve collaborated with some great people and am looking to continue the trend where appropriate. I’m not sure of any networks, but anything can happen!

GS: From when you started playing League till now, what are the biggest takeaways from the eSports industry that have moved or inspired you to take this path as a content creator?  

B: I’ve come to terms with the fact that your career can start and end before you have a chance to come to terms with everything. It’s important to give your all, all of the time. Otherwise, you could quickly go back to real life. I can’t imagine not making videos right now.

GS: eSports is rapidly becoming the next big market to invest in. From a grassroots birth, it has come such a long way in less than half a decade. What are you thoughts about eSports then and now?  

B: Many companies like Valve and Riot have sunk a lot of resources into making it a great competitor spectacle. eSports has been around for a while, but it’s important that it remains watchable by not just veterans of the sport or game, but by casual and new watchers alike. The fact that companies like American Express and Diet Coke have come on board further support the fact that there is still untapped sport.

GS: Seeing non-gaming big companies like Amazon, ESPN, YouPorn, and Coke Cola heavily investing in the industry, what are your predictions of how it’ll effect eSports?  

B: It can only be good. Companies involving themselves are realizing the massive reach that eSports has and the potential money they can gain from partnering with different organizations. Everyone wins.

GS: Have you seen the Intel: Unleash Greatness video first publicized during the IEM 2014 tournament in San Jose? It depicts a completely different perspective of pro gamers as a lavish lifestyle relatable to that of an actor or singer. What are you thoughts about the direction eSports is going?    

B: Esports is only getting bigger and bigger. I know several personalities whose lives have been changed by their popularity in the competitive scene. Just like singing, or playing a sport, when you get noticed for your abilities, doors open up, so eSports is no different. I like the direction the scene is heading, because this means more opportunities for others to live that kind of life – getting paid and global acclaim for playing their favorite game.

GS: In regards to the video mentioned before, what do you think will become of content producers like yourself?  

B: Content creation isn’t going anywhere. TV is going the way of the dodo, and it’s being proven that someone with a camera, computer, a voice, and an idea can reach a large amount of people for a much less costly overhead. We reach the demographics that normal programming struggle to keep captivated. People are canceling cable and watching everything online. In the end, it’s all about the audience you can cultivate through your method of entertainment – what you end up doing with that, the possibilities are endless. The sooner companies realize this, the happier everyone will be.

GS: Any final words of wisdom or thoughts after this interview?  

B: Anyone can make a video, but it takes someone special to keep an audience coming back. Don’t stop until you’ve hit your stride, and don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is a surefire way to know your limits and make the right choices chasing what you want to do. Keep pushing. Hard work and a little bit of luck got me here. You can get there too.

Many thanks to Blakinola for this interview. Be sure to check out his YouTube Channel! You can follow Blakinola also on Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook. OH BABY!

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